I don’t post here often, but I do read almost daily. I hope to get advice from people not emotionally invested a difficult situation.
Basically, my brothers and I help to support our elderly mother (One brother and I live out-of-state, the other brother lives in Mom’s town, Mom lives in an independent-living senior apartment complex.)
Due to health issues, I’ve been paying several hundred dollars each month for a caretaker to come in a couple of times a week. In addition, she needs to get dentures and so far the cost estimates range from $4000-$6000. One brother has a family and his finances are strapped, but that’s okay because he does the in-town support and that’s invaluable. The other brother has agreed to help out financially as well. I am HAPPY to help, even if it means putting myself into some of my own debt, because she’s my mom and I love her and I can get myself back out of debt much easier than she can. We’ve asked her to help with what she can, and she claims that she doesn’t have any money and can’t contribute. Fair enough.
So here’s the problem. In-town brother has access to mom’s email and computer, to help her out with tech issues and things that come up. Today he asked me about all the online purchases Mom’s been making. Um, what? Just in the last month, she’s charged about $700 of stuff (on credit). And it’s crap stuff – new bedding, lots of house decor, expensive makeup. This is a woman who won’t buy the $4 magnesium pills that she needs, because she’s “too worried about the cost”.
So my emotions right now are ranging between:
–being PISSED that she can’t help with her own health costs, but she can buy stuff she doesn’t need
–being SCARED that she’s in some sort of mental decline and no longer making good financial decisions
So what do we do? She’s going to be really hurt and upset that we betrayed her by looking at her emails. And, we are totally guilty of that, no question. I’m trying to justify it as being out of concern, but it’s still going to be a really, really awkward conversation.
Do we let it go? Do we confront her? What do we do moving on? I’m so uncomfortable with the idea of asking for some sort of oversight about her money, but then again, I think she really might not be capable of doing this on her own. (She’s only 70, but has had 3 strokes, a major heart attack, and lots and lots of health issues in the past few years. So I know that she has some diminished mental capacity, but I don’t know that she’s declined to the level of dementia or anything that serious.)
TLDR: We’ve been helping our mother out financially due to claims of no money, but she’s been spending lots of money on non-essentials, and hiding it from us. What do we do?
Thanks to anybody who has advice on this situation.